Employees guaranteed jobs in First Security-Zion’s merger

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    By AARON HUFF

    When Utah’s two largest independent banks merge this year, layoffs will not be part of the transaction.

    When Zionsbancorp and First Security combine, employees of both banks will have a job as long as they don’t quit before the deal happens, sources say.

    Last year in June the banks signed a decision to merge. In Decmeber the banks reached an agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to divest 60 branches in Utah, mainly Zion branches. As part of the DOJ’s acquisition agreement, employees of the divested branches are required to be employed by the banks which buy the divested branches, said Rob Brough, public relations manager for Zion’s.

    “Employees know that they will be offered employment, but they don’t know who the new employers are,” Brough said.

    Brough also said that employees’ pay is required to remain the same, but benefits will be based on the acquiring banks’ benefits package. All of the divested branches will be auctioned off in the near future.

    Brough said he is sure that all divested branches will be sold and will remain open to the public through the new owners.

    Despite being guaranteed a job and equal pay, some employees are still concerned.

    In Spanish Fork, a First Security and Zion’s branch are within two blocks of each other.

    “Spanish Fork is the only town where at least one of the branches will not be sold,” said Kathy Brandon, the bank manager at First Security in Spanish Fork. The Zion’s branch will merely change its name.

    Some employees have expressed concern.

    Speaking of her branch, Brandon said, “All employees are concerned, and I’m concerned for them.” As for her own job, she is not worried.

    “If you’re a good employee and do a good job, you’ll probably be ok,” she said.

    In the branch offices as well as the corporate offices of both companies some employees have requested severance. They have been given a work-through date.

    Jackelin Slack, from First Security Communications, said that not all executives will continue in similar positions.

    “If there is an executive that is not offered an opportunity in the new company — called a qualified offer — then they would receive severance pay,” she said.

    Another First Security employee, James Dunn, is currently a mail and distribution carrier between First Security branches in Salt Lake and Utah counties. He received a letter from his supervisor saying his job would remain the same after the merger.

    Dunn said he thinks the merger will actually save jobs.

    “We would’ve been gobbled up by the big banks from the east. They would’ve bought First Security if we didn’t merge,” he said.

    The merge will create the nation’s 20th largest bank with $40 billion in assets. The new conglomerate will retain First Security’s name and will be located in 10 western states, Brough said.

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